This past weekend I had the complete pleasure of attending a family gathering for my brother’s 40th wedding anniversary. It was at my nieces house, a pool party/BBQ. Normally, …hmmm, no that isn’t the right word….let’s say, “in the past” (cuz there was nothing “normal” about it… in the past, that would have terrified me. First, because I would not want to have been seen…to be out in public in, what to me was, my disturbing body. Second, to have to talk about myself. That was definitely not worth the time or effort. So not exactly my idea of a good time. Especially with people outside of my family, friends etc, there that I didn’t know. That would have had all the makings of a really good disaster.

However, that was definitely not the case, and I knew it wouldn’t be. I was truly excited to be going! And I wasn’t disappointed. I had a blast! This was probably my first family & friends gathering since I transitioned. All family members of course knew. Some family friends knew. Many did not. So it was a bit of a mixed bag. But it all worked out, no issues. I was not the center of attention, and that is how it should be. Of course, the event was about my brother and my sister-in-law. Sometimes, inadvertently, I can become the centre of attention at gatherings, if only for a brief period of time. Not cool. So that worked out nicely. We just gathered to chill, spend time with great people, watch all the little ones splash around in the pool, raise a glass in celebration, and catch up with each other. Awesome.

As much fun as the actually party was, the best part for me was after the guests had left and it was just the 12 of us…family. That was my chance to just settle in with them and enjoy. I miss the friendly banter as we poke fun at each other. Listen to all the stories, remark on all the successes, of which there were many! And of course talk about our challenges and issues, accepting advice when available. It was a loving, fun environment. And I really miss it. Don’t bet me wrong, I love my life, super content. But there is something special about being with family. With my family. From my perspective, I am closer to them now that at any other time in the past five decades. I guess it’s because I can be who I really am. Just me. And that is fine with everyone. So I can relax and be present in the moment. The dysphoria is gone, so my brain is clear and able to be there for others instead of focusing on how crappy I felt, which is where I was in the past.

There’s an old saying….”you can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your family”. Well for me, if I had the chance to pick, I would pick the same people! (okay, maybe not my parents, but that’s a different story for another day). My family is so cool. Really bright people, each successful in their own way, happy with who they are, caring and loving. Perfect. I’ll take it. That’s not to say we all haven’t had our struggles. Gawd yes. But they have always been there for each other, and continue to do so even as some of us still struggle with something in our lives. We are not a perfect family by any means. Not even close. But we are tight.

And that’s all that matters.

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